Opinion Trump won’t fade away. The GOP will have to get rid of him.

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HR King
May 29, 2001
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By Eugene Robinson
Columnist |
November 10, 2022 at 4:17 p.m. EST


Republicans who say the Donald Trump era is over and the Ron DeSantis era has begun are guilty of magical thinking. Trump is never, ever going to voluntarily release his grip on your party. Nor will his followers simply extricate themselves from a movement that’s more cult than political party. If you want the GOP back, you’re going to have to take it from Trump and accept that it’s going to be ugly.


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Rupert Murdoch’s media empire can’t do the job for you, hard as it might try. The change in tone since Tuesday’s elections is striking. Fox News analysts have presented the results as disastrous for the GOP. Thursday’s Wall Street Journal ran one editorial blaming Trump for making the party nominate unelectable candidates, another headlined “Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser,” and a column by GOP eminence grise Karl Rove titled, “With No Red Wave, Trump Is Out at Sea.”
The New York Post, channeling the right-wing id, was even more aggressive in its Trump-bashing, with a front-page illustration of “Trumpty Dumpty” having a great fall. And in all of Murdoch’s outlets, there is over-the-top praise of newly reelected Florida Gov. DeSantis as the GOP’s supposed new savior.






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Tuesday’s results were indeed a powerful blow to Trump as the unquestioned leader of the Republican Party. Many of the Republican candidates he anointed based on their fealty to him — and their willingness to parrot his lies about the 2020 election — ended up losing or struggling in races GOP strategists thought they would win.




Don Bolduc was supposed to have a good chance of unseating Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire but lost by nine points. Tudor Dixon was advertised as having the potential to oust Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, but Dixon lost by more than 10 points — and Democrats won control of both chambers of the state legislature for the first time in decades. In Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz lost the Senate race to Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. And Doug Mastriano, one of the Trumpiest Trump-picked candidates of all, was simply demolished in the governor’s race by Josh Shapiro.
Those are just the biggest headlines. In a year when history, soaring inflation and President Biden’s approval numbers would seem to have guaranteed Republican success, Democrats have a good chance of keeping control of the Senate — and the GOP, when all the votes are counted, appears likely, at best, to end up with a hard-to-manage, single-digit majority in the House. Down at his Mar-a-Lago lair, Trump has reportedly been fuming about how his candidates let him down and how advisers led him to pick a bunch of losers.







The obvious step for the Republican Party, given the abundant evidence, is to dump Trump. But a few tough editorials won’t even loosen his grip on his followers, much less send him slinking into retirement.
After all, a key tenet of Trumpworld is that anything that goes wrong is always somebody else’s fault.
“For those many people that are being fed the fake narrative from the corrupt media that I am Angry about the Midterms, don’t believe it,” he posted on TruthSocial. “I am not at all angry, did a great job (I wasn’t the one running!), and am very busy looking into the future. Remember, I am a ‘Stable Genius.’ ”
Also recall that this is hardly the first time the GOP establishment has lined up against him. It happened in 2016, when he was winning the presidential nomination. It happened again in 2021, after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.







The score thus far is Trump 2, Establishment 0. Trump won those fights because he had the support of the Republican base, and even managed to turn some establishment Republicans into the enemy.
For those hoping that Trump can be persuaded, cajoled or forced into keeping a low profile for a few weeks, at least until the Senate runoff in Georgia between Democratic incumbent Raphael G. Warnock and Trump endorsee Herschel Walker — well, good luck with that.
Trump is reportedly itching to announce his own campaign for president in 2024. And the fact that he now refers to DeSantis as “Ron DeSanctimonious” — not one of his more memorable coinages — shows how sensitive he is to all the good media coverage the Florida governor is receiving. The idea of DeSantis hitting the stump for Walker and getting credit if Trump’s protege wins the seat, and perhaps the Senate, will make it impossible to keep the former president sidelined.
The First Rule of Trump will apply: The spotlight has to be on him, and only him.
That’s why it will be so hard to dislodge him from public life. Trump will push through defeat and shame that would humble anyone else. It’s the attention he can’t live without. And the Republican establishment has no way to deny that to him.

 
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